At midday on April 12, Hanoi police placed Nguyễn Viết Dũng and his four companions under urgent arrest. According to the custody decision signed by Senior Lieutenant Colonel Chu An Thanh on April 13, Nguyễn Viết Dũng was arrested urgently because he “had caused public disorder at Hoan Kiem lake”, violating Article 245 of the Vietnamese Penal Code.
1. Nguyễn Viết Dũng and his companions had participated in the April 12 march to protect trees in a peaceful way as did many Hanoians. If he and his companions were arrested for “causing public disorder” as accused by the police, this means the police perversely considered marching for tree protection as an act of causing public disorder.
2. If a peaceful march to call for tree protection were considered as an act of causing public disorder and violating Article 245 of the Penal Code, then more than 100 people that participated in the march should have also violated Article 245 and been urgently arrested, for every citizen should be treated equally by law.
3. Consequently, the arrest of Nguyễn Viết Dũng and his four companions only, a sneaky one after the march had ended, must be an arbitrary detention. It displays the Hanoi police’s discretionary power and abuse of such vaguely-worded laws as Article 245.
From the above judgments, the NVB urges everybody to:
- identify the arrest of Nguyễn Viết Dũng as a violation of human rights when a citizen simply raises their objection to environment destruction;
- raise their voice and take actions to oppose the Hanoi police’s arbitrary detention of tree protectors, including Nguyễn Viết Dũng, and to claim his release;
- keep fighting to protect the environment and human rights, for no tree would ever exist if the tree protectors cannot defend their liberty.